Quitting can lead to success

It is no secret that we live in a medicated country of over-prescriptions. With drugs on every corner and every street in between, many fall head first into a wicked spiral of drug addiction. Others slowly fall prey to their drug of choice as they watch their previous way of life deteriorate, only to make room for the monster they are incessantly consuming. According to The World Health Organization's survey of legal and illegal drug use in 17 countries, including the Netherlands and other countries with less stringent drug laws, Americans report the highest level of cocaine and marijuana use.

It seems most addicts do not assume that lifestyle on purpose; it just happens. Before they know it, their recreational habits have become common practice, and a fundamental part of their mental routine.

Breaking this cycle can be a hellish toll. Perhaps it is because, as Keith Richards described in his recent autobiography Life, "The toughest thing about overcoming addiction, is as a former addict you know you've had your best day." He describes in his book that particularly during his recordings of Exile on Main Street, arguably the Rolling Stone's most collaborative and impressive album, heroin put him in a necessary zone. One that blocked out the monotonous aspects of every day life, allowing him to focus on the task at hand, composing legendary riffs which he managed in full force.

Another famous addict who has inspired countless authors and who's unique writing style was said to represent an entire generation was Hunter S. Thompson. He was a self-proclaimed "helpless drug fiend." He also said that, "Without drugs I would have the mind of an accountant." I am going to speculate and say that even without drugs, he could have achieved a creative and artistic approach to life, and that this definitive view of himself was simply a justification for his reckless drug-use.

These pop culture icons show that drug addicts often relish their addictions. Even if they manage to combat their dependence on drugs, they will never manage to replace that way of life.

Overcoming an addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. Many feel shunned from society as soon as they admit their former addictions. Perhaps because they feel that nothing compares to the highs they use to feel and how hard it was to give them up, and that very few people can truly understand that. Nevertheless, overcoming an addiction is a very respectable feat. When you hear statistics of addicts enrolling themselves in treatment facilities and how many of them actually follow through with the programs, the numbers are generally very low.

So I say give those who have beat their addiction a pat on the back, extend them the extra courtesy, and don't ostracize them for it. They are trying incredibly hard to become functional members of society, so why not help them out? Is that not a noble intention on their part?

Robert Downey Jr. serves as an inspiration for a slingshot comeback. Downey, Jr. was in the dirtiest depths of a public drug addiction, and since hitting bottom, has cleaned up and starred in series of Hollywood hits. He has informed the public that he feels like a "veteran of a war that is difficult to discuss with people who haven't been there."

There should be respect for people who were strong enough to overcome something as powerful as drug addiction, and yet there is only scrutiny—negative, condescending scrutiny.  It's a hush-hush topic, even though many people have experienced it.

We live in a society dotted with addicts and recovering addicts. It seems an inherent problem for a society with almost zero possibility of a drug-free future. As a society, we need to learn to understand how to work with it, and improve the relationship between former users and their sober peers.